I have missed you all!
A lot has happened since my last blog–I traveled to Gettysburg in late June, to spend time with friends (Sandy and Janet, hello!) and check an item off my bucket list: watching part of the re-enactment of the famous battle of Gettysburg, which actually took place on July 1, 2nd and 3rd of 1863. I saw the staging of Pickett’s Charge, which turned out to be a real disaster for the Confederacy. And, certainly, for the actual troops involved.
There were, of course, far fewer men on the field the day I visited than in 1863, but it didn’t take much effort to imagine the scene as it would have been on that long-ago day–soldiers in blue coats as far as the tree-line and well beyond, Confederates in their rag-tag uniforms–most of them butternut in color, rather than gray–facing all those men and horses and cannon. It was altogether heartbreaking and it felt so real–I wanted to cry, and nearly did, and I had to suppress an urge to shout to the Rebels, “Go back!” or “Run!”
I stood next to a re-enactor, and he told me those who will fall in battle are chosen ahead of time, which makes sense. It’s not the greatest duty, given the heat, the humidity, and the bugs. Often, I learned, the pretend-wounded/dead must remain on the ground for a very long time.
When I returned from Gettysburg, I was just plain exhausted. Still a little fatigue left over from that round of c-diff I suffered earlier, I guess, and I had been to a conference in Portland, OR. shortly before, so I spread myself a little thin. I’m trying to learn to pace myself, when it comes to travel, but old habits are hard to break. I chuckle (ruefully) when I remember days gone by, when I did things like flying to Bangkok, spending the night in an airport hotel, boarding another plane in the morning, bound for Chang Mai, and riding an elephant. I spent one night there, then returned to Bangkok and joined a tour group, traveling on to Singapore, Bali, and Hong Kong!
Sigh. Those were the days. Now, I would need long stopovers in each location, if I went at all. For one thing, I can’t be away from my kitty and my dogs for that long.
There are still a lot of faraway places I want to see–the Great Wall in China, for instance, the statues on Easter Island, the Greek Islands–but I may have to settle for watching documentaries on Netflix :). I’ve traveled far and wide, and I’m grateful I did all that globe-trotting when I was younger.
I’ve been ‘pre-writing’ all this time, which means I was binging on YouTube art videos and trying the techniques that interested me, which are acrylic flow painting and working with alcohol inks. Zounds! There are so many talented people in this world–I especially love to watch Rick Cheadle, Caren Goodrich, Danny Clark and Anne Marie Ridderhoff pouring their glorious abstract paintings–it’s all glorious color and sweet suspense, because you never know what’s going to happen after the paints are mixed and poured onto a canvas. If you’ve never seen this art form before–I hadn’t–check out these talented people, or any of the many other talented folks brave enough to film their projects and put them up for all the world to see. The alcohol inks are equally fascinating–the colors are so bright, and the results are amazing, even when calamity strikes.
My own pieces are less than fabulous, but each experiment brings me joy and teaches me something. As Danny Clark often reminds his hordes of viewers, and as I myself have assured many an aspiring writer, if you want to be good at something, you have to be willing to suck at it first, and maybe for a long time. I’ve had some spectacular failures, as well as some small successes, and I promise to post pictures as soon as I have anything decent to show.
So why did I refer to all this as ‘pre-writing’? Because painting uses a different part of the brain, and allows the storytelling part to do its magic, bubbling away beneath the surface until it’s ready to go onto my computer screen.
Happily, I have reached that stage, and begun my next western romance, THE WAGER. I’ll be telling you more about that as time goes on, and about the art, too. And I’ll be blogging.
P.S. There’s a new contest underway (finally), and the rules are the same as always: if you comment, you’re entered. Two winners will be chosen at random, notified by Super Jen, and sent signed copies of one of my books.